Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blue & White Roundtable

Midweek is here and that can only mean one thing: Blue & White Roundtable. This week the questions come on the fly from Run Up The Score. RUTS is focused like a laser on Michigan… people – focus your hate… let it consume you!! On to the questions!

Reportedly, Penn State is playing some school in a mitten-shaped state this weekend. Are any of you actually optimistic for the Michigan game?

Hey, I'm always optimistic when it comes to Penn State but unfortunately my pessimism has overwhelmed me. When a team of Penn State's caliber (the 4 losing seasons aside) loses 8 in a row to one team there is something drastically wrong. 4 or 5 in a row could just be unfortunate circumstances or bad luck but 8 in a row? You're doing something systematically wrong. Until Penn State proves they can beat Michigan even in a down year, I'm not taking the Lions.

Nick: Hell yes, bring ‘em on. Why is everyone so scared? You’d think we lost this game already. Does the Russell Crowe factor intimidate you? Looking for some back room dealing to do Penn State in? Michigan is 1-2 at this point and looked as bad as can be in their two losses. They might have gained some traction against Notre Dame, but what does that really mean this year? Hope springs eternal.

What, me worry?

Okay, we all know that Penn State has lost eight straight games against Michigan since 1997. Plenty of PSU fans blame the coaches' offensive game planning, calling it predictable and bland. Fair criticism? If the definition of "insane" is repeating the same act over and over again and expecting a different result, does this make our coaching staff absolutely crazy?

Galen: The game plan hasn't been the same for every game so I wouldn't say they've done the same game plan every year. Penn State has a more open attack at home and plays conservative on the road, that's how they've always done it. Against Michigan the "conservative" approach will kill them especially on defense. If Penn State takes the "bend but don't break" approach and sits back in soft zone against Michigan they will get killed. I don't care who is playing at quarterback getting pressure on either one is key. PSU won't be able to stop Hart but they can contain him and make whoever plays at quarterback beat them. If it's Mallet, pressure him into making mistakes and if it's Henne, my GOD get his feet moving, he's a terrible passer on the run, just go look at the App. State tapes.

Nick: It makes our coaches scientists and they are charged with the task to test whether or not a theory is sound. Here’s the problem, people complain about conservative play calling, but if we open things up and say a turnover happens then the cry is why are we doing that? People just need something to bitch about.

List three things Penn State absolutely must do in order to finally beat Michigan.

Galen: 1. Hold on to the ball – this is first and foremost, if Penn State plays turnover free I think they will win, which obviously means that if I'm not taking Penn State I think they will turn the ball over.

2. Special Teams – the difference in this game could be field position and field goals. Make your chip shot field goals and cover on special teams. If you get decent returns, that's a bonus but hold on to the ball.

3. Contain Mike Hart – you aren't going to stop Hart but you can contain his runs and hopefully force the quarterback to beat you. Score an early touchdown and you can change the whole landscape of the game, allow an early TD and you will get bludgeoned to death.

Nick: Shut down Hart – so far this season, he is the Michigan team with some other guys in blue uniforms and winged helmets along for the ride.
Spread their defense – they are shown to have big gaping holes in their defense, exploit them.
Avoid giving them short fields – that means limit turnovers and avoid our hiccups that keep popping up once or twice a game in punt/kick returns that are leaving short fields for the defense.

Lightning Round

Would you rather be facing a one-legged Henne or a two-legged Mallett this weekend?

Galen: Doesn't matter you have to get pressure on either one

Nick: Either is fine with me, it was great to see the joy which Mallett played with last week. I would like to snuff that joy out.

Your score prediction?

Galen: Michigan 17 – PSU 14

Nick: 31-24 – the perfect bookend for all those losses in between.

Do you see any upsets on the Big Ten horizon this week?

Galen: Two possibilities – Iowa over Wisconsin or Northwester over OSU. I know, I know, I'm crazy but like I've said before when you have a crushing upset defeat you either bounce back and play your best or you pack it in.

Nick: The line has Illinois as a 3-point favorite against Indiana, but think the Hoosiers can pull that game out.

In one word, tell us if the constant griping by Penn State fans about Big Ten officiating is valid.

Galen: No.

Nick: In one word? Yes. There is far too much evidence in support of many of the key gripes, have we perhaps turned the corner after that call against Minnesota last year? It’s entirely possible.

There you have it, head on over to the rest of the team and check out their answers.

Run Up the Score
Black Shoe Diaries
William Yurasko
There Is No Name On My Jersey
The Nittany Blog

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